Spain Subsidies

Spain–1,177 million Euros between 2014 and 2016

Spain is a country that has been fossil fuel dependent and that is still far from being a significant producer of renewable energy. According to data from the World Bank Group on Energy Consumption, in 2015, 72.9% of the energy consumed in Spain was from fossil fuels.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Climate Action Network (CAN) released the results of the study called Monitoring Europe’s Fossil Fuel Subsidies in September 2017. This study highlights that “Spain’s transparency and reporting on fossil fuel subsidies is relatively poor. – … – The fossil fuel estimates (in this study) are therefore likely to be underestimates.” It estimates that between 2014 and 2016, Spain’s subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption was an average of 1,711 million euros per year.

The study mentions that the extent of Spain’s subsidies goes beyond its borders. Through the country’s export credit agency, Spain has supported oil and gas projects in Angola, Costa Rica, Kenya, Romania and Turkey worth an average of 56 million euros per year between 2014 and 2016. A part of the study says that “Spain, as part of the European Union (EU), has repeated its commitment to phase out the fossil fuel subsidies every year since 2009.”

The Framework Plan for Coal Mines and Mining Communities 2013-2018, was set in October 2013, and states that because of the intermittent character of the renewable energy (meaning the dependency on meteorological conditions), it is necessary to preserve energy sources that guarantee the energy supply under any kind of circumstances. In the case of Spain, the main source would be coal and its exploitation would only be possible if it ensures a set of standards that mitigates the impact in the environment. One of the objectives of this plan is to ease the closure of mines that under the conditions proposed to preserve the environment are not able to be financially efficient. In accordance with this scenario, the plan to help the affected communities in the transition to other ways of employment involves several subsidies and requires the use if at least 7.5% of autochthonous coal in the generation of energy.

The time frame of the current policy will come to an end soon and the achievement of its objectives is still unclear. The future of this subject is primarily unclear as it is with, basically, all the plans needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement in the short and long term. Spain will need to develop a well-integrated program when preparing its next plan to reduce its greenhouse emissions. This plan will include changes in tax policies for the different industries and preserving the environment while growing the economy. Businesses will need to find another way to produce and consume energy.

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Spain Survey

95% of the Spanish population would “impose strict controls and heavy penalties” on industries that damage the environment.

Metroscopia is a one of the most prestigious public opinion research institutes in Spain. In 2016, Metroscopia made a survey in Spain asking about “Sustainability” and the results showed that 87% of the Spanish population consider it necessary to create more green spaces and 95% of the Spanish population would “impose strict controls and heavy penalties” on industries that damage the environment. The study also showed that 71% of the Spanish population do not believe that the earth will be able to recover from the environmental damage that humans have created..

An analysis made by in June of 2016 about the concerns of the Spanish population towards the environment and the use of renewable energy, shows that 53% of the Spanish population would be willing to pay more for energy from renewable sources and 92.8% think that renewable energy should be promoted. The survey showed that the autonomous communities of Murcia, Extremadura and the Canarias islands are the ones more aware of the necessity to preserve the environment.

From these numbers, it is possible to tell that most of Spain is aware of the need to accomplish the goals of the Paris Agreement and that if the main actors, meaning government and industrial leaders, take actions to preserve the environment then the people will support them.

Spain Strategies

Spain: (1) Do more to adhere to the EU pledge to cut emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030; (2) Provide support for the use of electric vehicles

According to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) pledge of the European Union (EU) and its Member States, the target for 2030 is “to cut emissions in EU territory by at least 40% percent below1990 levels.” But a recent study made by the ESADE on April of 2017, says that the greenhouse emissions of Spain have increased 14% compared to 1990. Spain is facing a bigger challenge than the rest of the member states of the EU, being the only one that has not been able to lower its greenhouse emissions.

In Spain, according to data released in April 2017, the main greenhouse emitters are the energy and transportation industries representing 26% and 25%, respectively of Spain’s total GHG emissions The only activity with emissions significantly lower than the ones reported in 1990 are solid fuels with a reduction of 90%.

According to the consulting firm Monitor Deloitte, Spain needs to increase its percentage of electric vehicles through programs that would make them look attractive to the public in a matter of cost and efficiency. The funding for a program like this would be 700 million euros annually for the next 13 years, which would include the funding to subsidize the acquisition of the vehicles and for the construction of charging stations across the country. The funding for the subsidy should start covering around 20% of the cost of the vehicle and as the number of vehicles increases the subsidy should start decreasing to a point where the price could be comparable to the price of a conventional vehicle. By 2040, it says, to sell vehicles with internal combustion engines should be prohibited.

The University of Stanford says that the transition to 100% renewable energy is possible. According to the study, Spain could be powered by onshore wind 25.7%, solar plants 23.3%, concentrated solar plants 11%, and other renewable sources 40% . That would be shared among rooftop solar, offshore wind, hydroelectric, wave energy, tidal turbines and geothermal energy. The study comments that if Spain is 100% powered by renewable energy, the demand for energy would be 44% less than if it were powered by fossil fuels.

Spain Renewable Energy

Spain—No 100% Commitment by 2050
Benchmark: The Galacia regional government has committed to reach 100% renewables by 2050

Spain is still working towards its 2020 goal of having 20% of its total energy consumption derived from clean energy sources. However, the country as a whole does not have a clear path to pursue after 2020.
Each region of Spain can set its own goals that go beyond the ones set by the European parliament and the government itself. Galicia, for example, located in the northwest corner of Spain, is an autonomous community that is committed to having an economy based on 100% renewable energy by 2050. Right now, the renewable energy in Galicia represents 52.6% of its total energy produced.

The government of Spain recently let out contracts for as much as 3.9 billion euros to supply electricity from clean-energy sources to meet the goals for 2020. Bids were submitted promising to supply at least 2 gigawatts and as much as 3 gigawatts of power from clean energy sources, mostly wind power.
One of the bidders was Siemens Gamesa that is building a wind power park in Tenerife. Gas Natural FENOSA, another winning bidder, will invest 200 million euros in Galicia to create another wind power park. FENOSA, recently announced an alliance with the car dealer SEAT to promote the use of natural gas in the transportation industry.

According to the Iberic association of natural gas for mobility, the registrations of motor vehicles powered by natural gas in Spain increased by 133% in 2016. 6,100 motor vehicles powered by natural gas are now running across the country; of which almost 1,700 are small vehicles and more than 4,200 are heavy vehicles including buses and trucks.

In July, there was another auction from the Spanish government seeking to obtain contracts for 3 more gigawatts of energy from sources based on wind and photovoltaic power.

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Gas Natural Fenosa anuncia 200 MW de energía eólica en Galicia

Spain Checkup

Spain—Falling Behind

The EU Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator is a method used to implement the EU’s Emission Sharing Regulation, which is intended to help set emission reduction targets for member states. The Calculator uses a points system where points are awarded based on various factors. The countries are then ranked based on the number of points awarded. As of March 2017, only one country ranked lower than Spain, and Spain’s efforts to curb its carbon emissions were given a ranking of “very poor.”

The factors upon which a country is awarded points include a country’s starting point for determining projected 2021-2030 emissions, its stance on the land use loophole and ETS surplus loophole, its system for governing any adopted policies, and its ambition level, which is described as the following: “The ESR must set Europe on a path to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and hence contain a trajectory to reach at least 95% emission cuts by 2050 supported by, at a minimum, a 45% reduction in non-ETS sectors by 2030.” The Effort Sharing Emissions Calculator provides a rubric that explains how the exact number of points for each category is awarded. The maximum number of points a country can receive is 100 and the lowest possible number is 0. Sweden holds the ranking of first place with 67 points, while Spain has only 9 points. The text below from the Emissions Calculator analysis of Spain illustrates why Spain was awarded the 9 points:

Spain wants to weaken the Commission proposal on the emission reductions starting point by moving the start of the trajectory from 2020 to 2021. This would allow the release of an additional 249 Mt CO2 over the period in the EU as a whole compared to the Commission proposal.  Spain could improve its position by advocating for a starting point that better reflects actual emissions, and by ensuring that countries that do not meet their 2020 targets are not rewarded for underachieving. A limitation on how much surplus can be banked for use in future years would lead to further emission cuts.

Spain has so far pushed for a bigger role for forests in the ESR, above all to help with the difficult task to maintain and enhance the Mediterranean forest sinks. Spain wants to do so by further expanding the categories of forestry offsets that can be used to meet the ESR targets (by including forest management offsets), which would allow more greenhouse gas emissions Spain could improve its position by advocating for reducing or removing the option to use forestry offsets to meet the ESR targets.

Spain is not among the nine countries that in the Commission proposal are allowed to use surplus ETS allowances to meet their ESR targets but seems to support the Commission proposal.  Spain could improve its position by advocating for reducing or removing the option to use surplus ETS allowances
Spain seems to support the Commission proposal for 5-yearly compliance checks. Spain could improve its position by advocating for yearly compliance checks and financial penalties.

Spain accepts its 2030 climate target of 26% emissions reductions, but is not planning to go beyond it, nor does it have a long-term climate target. Spain could improve its position by supporting a higher domestic 2030 target (as its own Parliament recommends) and an ambitious long-term target.
In order to comply with the Paris Agreement, Spain may have to adopt some of the recommendations made above by Carbon Market Watch, including incorporating yearly compliance checks instead of 5-yearly checks, not advocating for the land use loophole, and by using the year 2020 as a starting point instead of the year 2021.

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Spain Emission Reduction Policy

Basque Environmental Framework Program

The Environmental Framework Program has been in place in the Basque region since 2002. It is a manifestation of the region’s holistic way of combating climate change. The Program’s goals are to protect the region’s natural resources and limit the impact of climate change on the region.
The Environmental Framework Program seeks to address current environmental problems, and in so doing  prevent future damage caused by climate change and other environmental problems. By putting preventive measures in place, the Basque region is investing resources now but avoiding large environmental related expenditures in the future.

The Environmental Program’s approach to climate change is focused on incentivizing business and consumers to increase the production and consumption of low-carbon and renewable energy sources. However it should be noted that the Framework addresses stopping climate change as part of a holistic set of environmental goals that also include protecting, conserving and restoring natural resources, fostering and protecting the health and well being of citizens, increasing economic sustainability, and integrating environmental goals into all government policies.

A distinguishing feature of the Environmental Framework Program is that it establishes a system for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the region’s environmental policies. The Program also emphasizes research and education related to the impact of climate change on the region’s environment.

The Basque Regional Environmental Framework Program is a policy model for preventing the damaging effects of climate change that could be scaled-up for use at a national level.

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Spain Extreme Weather Event

Extreme Droughts and Floods in Eastern and Southern Spain

Extreme weather has ravaged Spain in the last couple of years. Torrential rains and deadly floods plagued eastern and southern Spain in December of 2016 resulting in ten fatalities, school and highway closures, and massive amounts of damage. Conversely, Spain experienced extreme droughts in 2016 and 2014, where rainfall was only 25% of its normal levels. In June 2015, Spain experienced heat waves with some provinces reaching record temperatures. With such chaotic weather patterns, Spain’s economy has suffered, its population is uneasy, and the government has struggled to keep up with remedial measures.

While Spain frequently experiences dry spells, extended periods of drought have become more frequent and more severe. In recent years, Spain’s reservoirs have fallen to half or even 25% of their normal levels. The droughts have negatively impacted Spain’s economy since they hinder the ability to grow crops or raise livestock and deter tourism, which are some of Spain’s leading sources of income. Furthermore, Spain may find itself in a similar situation as it was during the drought of 2008, which was so severe that Spain was forced to import fresh water from France.

In December 2016, extreme flooding ravaged southern and eastern Spain. The region experienced days of endless rainfall that caused damage to buildings, infrastructure, and cars. The flooding claimed the lives of ten people, including one man who was swept out to sea. These floods led to speculation that rising sea levels due to global warming may have exacerbated the flood conditions.

As a result of the flooding, the Spanish government will be providing financial assistance to aid in reparations. While this measure will benefit many citizens who suffered damages in the floods, it does nothing to prevent future flooding. Additionally, the Spanish government is still recovering from its recent economic crisis. Providing this financial assistance will pose a further financial burden on the government. The reservoirs and dams that exist in Spain today were built during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco roughly half a century ago. The Spanish government may find that investing in the creation of new dams and reservoirs could prevent future flooding while also providing more sources of fresh water during periods of drought.

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Spain Media Organizations

Spain has both private and government-owned media organizations. Fortunately for the environment, even Spain’s government-owned radio and television channel, RTVE, warns of the implications of climate change and highlights the importance of the Paris Agreement. Two other media organizations that have covered the issue of climate change and the ratification process of the Paris Agreement are the internet-based La Voz Libre, and the newspaper El Mundo.

Content Samples:

In early November 2016, El Mundo ran a story stating that Isabel García Tejerina, the Minister of Agriculture, Fishing, Nutrition, & the Environment, had prioritized the ratification of the Paris Agreement. This story was important because the ratification process and its timeline could vary greatly depending on the urgency deemed by the government. A few days later, El Mundo published another article, in which it announced that the Paris Agreement had been presented to Spain’s Parliament for ratification. The article reiterated that the ratification of the Paris Agreement was considered an urgent matter, therefore expediting the process, and that the Agreement was expected to be ratified in early 2017.

El Mundo is owned by Unidad Editorial S.A., and the editor’s name is David Jiménez. The mailing address for the main office is Avenida de San Luis 25, 28033 Madrid. Two reporters who have historically covered stories relating to climate change or the Paris Agreement are Miguel G. Corral and Ana García Romero. While an email address or telephone number are not available, their Twitter handles are @miguelgcorral and @Anagarciarj.

In late November 2016, La Voz Libre published a story stating that Spain’s Congress had unanimously approved the Paris Agreement and that it had been submitted to the Senate for its approval. In late December, while Spain was still waiting for the Senate’s approval, La Voz Libre published another story that mentions Spain’s inability to elect a functioning government through much of 2016, and how its stalled politics had meant an entire year of no advancements in the way of combating climate change.
Also in November 2016, RTVE ran a story stating that Pablo Saavedra, Spain’s Secretary of State for the Environment, announced that Spain was in fact on track to ratify the Paris Agreement at the beginning of 2017. Furthermore, the story stated that the Paris Agreement would become legally binding since it had been ratified by enough countries to account for 55% of carbon emissions. As had been predicted, RTVE then ran a story in January 2017 announcing that Spain had ratified the Paris Agreement. The story’s tone is one of relief that Spain had acknowledged the importance of combating climate change, and goes so far as to claim that the Paris Agreement is conducive to international cooperation.

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La Voz Libre is run by Manuel Romero, who can be reached by telephone at 34 914 315498, or by mail at Isabel Colbrand 10, planta 5 of. 157, 28050 Madrid.

RTVE is owned by the Spanish government. While the direct lines or email addresses of any reporters are not available, the station can be reached by telephone at 91 581 70 00, by fax at 91 581 79 – 91 581 80, or by mail at Alcalde Sáinz de Baranda 92, 28007 Madrid

Spain Subnational Best Practices


The Basque Region—Spain’s Basque Region is arguably the most proactive region with regard to the environment and climate change. The Region has developed a Basque Environmental Strategy for Sustainable Development, publishes periodic reports on the state of its environment, and is home to the renowned Basque Center for Climate Change (BC3).

The Basque Environmental Strategy for Sustainable Development is composed of a series of Environmental Framework Programs (I-IV). The first Environmental Framework Program was implemented in 2002, and each lasts approximately three to four years. This allows the region to reevaluate what its problem areas are and what the most effective way of combating climate change is given any recent developments in technology or research.

The main objectives of the Environmental Framework Program are depicted in the image below:

The Basque Region periodically publishes its “State of the Environment of the Basque Country” report. As a result of this ongoing monitoring of the environment, the following conclusions can be made about the state of the environment in the Basque Region since the implementation of the Basque Environmental Strategy for Sustainable Development:

The Basque Center for Climate Change is home to some of the country’s most prolific scientists and environmentalists, including Maria Jose Sanz Sanchez, the Center’s Scientific Director.
Address: Sede Building 1, 1st floor, Scientific Campus of the University of the Basque Country, 48940 Leioa
Telephone: +34 94 401 46 90 ext. 178

Castile-Leon Region—Castile-Leon’s landscape is flat and elevated, which helps make it a leader in wind energy production and farming. This region is the country’s largest producer of wind energy with an installed wind power capacity of 5,560.01 MW. The large number of wind farms in Castile-Leon is mostly a result of the feed-in tariff scheme that Spain use to have. During Spain’s economic crisis, many of these feed-in tariff schemes were suspended. However, the wind farms that were built continue to function and Castile-Leon’s success in wind energy production could serve as an incentive to once again implement such policies as Spain recovers financially.

Being that Castile-Leon contains vast areas of farmland, it is essential to its environment that farm machinery be fuel-efficient. During its course, the PIMA TIERRA Plan encouraged swapping older, less efficient farm tractors for newer ones. This Plan was highly successful in Castile-Leon, and has aided in the reduction of carbon emissions.

The Castile-Leon region is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, many of which inhabit the Guadarrama Mountains. In 2013, the Guadarrama Mountains were named a national park, thus legally protecting the area. Furthermore, the Law 30/214 of 3 December on National Parks aims to “considerably strengthen and consolidate their protection.”

Within the autonomous Castile-Leon Regional government is the Ministry of Development of Environment. The Director’s name is Juan Carlos Suarez-Quinones.
Address: c/ Rigoberto Cortejoso, 14, 7th Floor – CP: 47014 – Valladolid
Telephone: 983 419 000


Madrid—The city of Madrid is the country’s capital and the largest in population with over three million inhabitants. As a result, Madrid has high levels of carbon emissions. Spain’s biggest cause of carbon emissions is transportation. In order to reduce its carbon emissions, Madrid is making an effort to streamline its methods of transportation and make them more environmentally friendly. One way of doing this is to implement hybrid buses into Madrid’s city bus fleet. In 2016, the city received 51 hybrid buses that are within the European Union’s suburban and short distance Class II regulations. Madrid has also adapted the ISO 14001, the internationally recognized Environment Management System, to its subway system in order to provide a guideline for its own procedures. Both of these measures aim to reduce carbon emissions in Spain’s most problematic sector, giving a renewed sense of hope for Spain’s environment and breathing fresh air into efforts that were stalled by the financial crisis.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment has her office in the city of Madrid.
Address: Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, Madrid
Phone: 91 597 60 68

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Spain Leaders and Opponents

Government Official
Isabel Garcia Tejerina
Minister of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment

As the Minister of the Environment, Ms. Garcia Tejerina will be tasked with ensuring that the Paris Agreement is implemented in Spain.

Contact: Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, Madrid; Phone: 91 597 60 68

Climate Program Advocate
Maria Jose Sanz Sanchez
Scientific Director of the Basque Center for Climate Change

Maria Jose Sanz Sanchez is familiar with the topic of climate change and is an advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Basque Center for Climate Change is a highly respected organization in the environmental sector.


Climate Program Opponent
Miguel Arias Cañete
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

Miguel Arias Cañete could oppose the Paris Agreement based on his political history. He has ties to the oil sector, including shareholdings in oil companies and has said that he wants to turn the Mediterranean into a major gas marketplace. Mr. Arias Cañete has been under scrutiny for conflicts of interest, and in 2014, a petition was created to prevent him from assuming his role as European Commissioner.